We could not believe our good fortune on this beautiful June morning, as we laughed and cried, splashed water, and playfully poured it over one another. The well was open, and we were some of its first enthusiastic visitors in a location where the past, present, and future converged before our eyes.
We started out the day full of eager anticipation at visiting the Bible College of Wales in Swansea, founded by Rees Howells in 1924. Rees Howells began his work in Swansea in the early 1900s about the same time when the Welsh revival hit the land through the ministry of Evan Roberts. Howells was a man of little worldly fame, but through Norman Grubb’s best-selling biography, Rees Howells, Intercessor, his life story has become known to millions.
I would not be exaggerating to say the course of human history was altered right here at the Bible College of Wales. Mr. Howells and his team of intercessors prayed all the way through World War II and prevailed in their prayers. They interceded through the 1948 mandate when the UN was voting if Israel was going to be a new nation and again, their prayers prevailed. After Rees Howells’ death in 1950, under the directorship of his son Samuel, victorious key spiritual battles were wrought against Communism. They also prayed through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis, and up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Serendipitously, we had arranged to visit the Bible college on Monday, June 22, just four weeks after it had been reopened and rededicated. Four years prior to this, a small team of pastors from Singapore went on a short assignment to Wales, England, and parts of Europe. Their assignment was to re-dig the old ancient revival wells, and pray at the very places that revival broke forth in the early 1900s. Later, Cornerstone Community Church of Singapore took on the daunting task of restoring and refurbishing the Bible College of Wales in preparation of seeing it become, once again, a school of ministry to impact the nations. We were among some of the first visitors to the college since the rededication!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by our hosts, Jeff and Pam Roberts, who seemed to embody the very essence of hospitality. Soft-spoken, humble, and gracious, they gave us a tour of the main building and beautifully manicured grounds and gardens. As welcoming and gracious as they were, nothing could compare with the weighty presence of God that pervaded the entire property. Throughout our time in Wales, we experienced what we called, “thin places,” locations where heaven and earth seemed especially close, and this was one of those!
Inside the main building, the Heritage Centre, our hosts began what they probably thought would be a typical tour. We entered the Blue Room, as it was affectionately called during Rees Howell’s intercessory ministry at the Bible College of Wales. From 1936 and all through the war years until 1945, prayer warriors prayed night and day in this room interceding for the defeat of Adolph Hitler and his allies. It seemed as though our team could not remain standing in this room, and it wasn’t long before we were on our knees or on our faces, as the presence of God was so strong! Scattered about the room were prayer cushions that we could lean against as we knelt in prayer. On the walls were written testimonies of the life and work of Rees Howells, highlighting his inspirational journey of obedience, surrender, and faith.
Jeff and Pam told us about a strange occurrence the night before. Their residence is on the property of the Bible college, and they were awakened in the night by the sound of their fire alarm. They searched throughout their apartment but could find no source of fire and no reason for the alarm. Laughingly, we told them about our experience with the airplane that was to take us from Fort Wayne to Atlanta and how we could not take this plane due to the lack of a fire extinguisher on board! It was our prayer that God would light a fire in Wales that could not be extinguished.
As the Roberts told about the restoration of the grounds and property that spring, they commented on how the gardeners had discovered a well, completely overgrown with brush. They remarked how they used to hear the trickling of water in that area as they walked about but didn’t know where it came from. As they cleared out the overgrown brush, to their surprise they discovered a well!
“Could we go to the well right now?” we excitedly clamored.
“Why, yes, we can do that,” replied our hosts, even though it would take us off the routine course of the tour.
The well was surrounded by a wall of stones, and scattered all about were lovely spring flowers. At the entrance to the well was a silver, wrought-iron gate with a sign that read, “Rehoboth,” and the Scripture from Genesis 26:22: “So he called its name Rehoboth because he said, ‘For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.’”
We descended the few stone steps down to the well, which was covered by a wheel-spoked grate. Instinctively, I knelt down and put my hand through the grate and began splashing the cold water. As others joined in, our team leader asked, “Does anyone have a container?”
“I have an empty water bottle,” I offered. Dave filled the bottle with well water, and the next thing we knew, we were all getting wet! One by one, we all asked to be “baptized” with the well water poured over our heads. Laughter broke out, and we were little children again playing in the water. Our hosts stood by, smiling and laughing with us. “You are our kind of people!” they exclaimed.
Trooping back to the Heritage Centre with wet hair and clothes, we completed our tour. We visited The Literature Room, which illustrated the milestones in the development and growth of the Bible College of Wales. It was accomplished solely through God’s faithful provision and the faith and sacrifices of Rees Howells and his team of intercessors. We viewed the classrooms and dining hall, which would soon be filled with students from around the world as the Bible college would be starting its fall semester in August. Exiting the Heritage Centre but not wanting to leave this hallowed place, we continued to wander outside through the lovely Italian gardens.
Finally, we had to tear ourselves away, as we had planned a tour of Moriah Chapel in Loughor later that afternoon. Our team agreed if we had done nothing else on this mission trip, just our experience at The Bible College of Wales and in particular at Rehoboth Well would have left us feeling as though we had accomplished what we came to do in Wales. And yet, there was more to come!
by Janet Mueller